If you are a social media manager, you’ve likely looked at ‘best time to post on social media’ studies to come up with several posting times for your brand.

I know I have.

But now, I believe it’s time to reconsider these studies.

In the last few years, more and more studies on the best times to post have been released. (At Buffer, we contributed to this too!) And while knowing your best time to post is still very relevant, I’m starting to feel that it’s no longer useful to refer to studies on this topic.

Bad insights can drive poor decision-making and simply going with the best time to post from a study could hinder your marketing efforts rather than help.

Read on to find out what you should do instead…

How to Find Your Best Time to Post on Social Media
How to Find Your Best Time to Post on Social Media

Why we should reconsider “best time to post on social media” studies

The concept of ‘best time to post on social media’ is still very much relevant.

Even with social media algorithms, it’s important to get engagement within the first few hours of posting so that the algorithms will show your posts to more of your audience. And finding the right times to post for your brand can help with that.

But I think it’s time we shift our focus away from studies on the best time to post on social media. While the studies are well-intended, they (including ours) are flawed in several ways.

Aggregated data vs unique audience

Many of these studies suggest best times to post based on aggregated data. The challenge with this is that the data includes businesses and individuals from different locations and different industries while your audience is unique to you. It’s hard to say that the average best time to post for a wide range of businesses would apply to your business.

Here are two good examples by Matt Rhodes from his article, The danger of bad insights and poor digital marketing decisions:

For a brand targeting mums, for example, it may make more sense to create engaging content at 2am when mums are awake and alone with their babies. For a brand targeting football fans, as another example, your research may find that your audience most wants to engage after football matches in the afternoon or evening.

Outdated studies

We are guilty of this at Buffer. Our best time to tweet study was done in 2016. Another guide on best times that we compiled was done in 2013!

As social media usage has likely changed over the last few years, the information in these posts might not be that useful now.

It’s also good to note that “newer” studies that were published recently could be referring to much older studies. So it’ll be great to check the primary source of the data before taking the recommendations.

Great starting point

Does this mean that those studies are not useful at all? Not entirely.

They can serve as a great starting point, especially if they suggest plausible explanations for those best times to post. For example, if you are working on an entirely new social media profile and do not have any data of your own to work with, some studies can come in handy. But they are not a copy-and-paste blueprint for success.

Try to go beyond just taking the “best times” from the studies and understand why those could be great times to post. Perhaps it’s because people are using Facebook while commuting to work. Or maybe it’s because teenagers are scrolling through Instagram late at night before they sleep.

And they are just that — a starting point.

What’s more important is to gain a better understanding of your brand’s unique audience such as their social media usage patterns. Let’s go through how to find your best time to post on social media while learning about your audience!

How to find your best time to post on social media

Social media is becoming increasingly personalized. From being a broadcasting channel, social media is becoming a one-to-one and one-to-few engagement channel.

To provide a personalized experience to your brand’s followers, you need to post according to your audience’s social media usage behavior. When done right, there’s a higher chance of them seeing and engaging with your social media posts — more reach and more engagement!

Here’s how to find your own best time to post on social media:

1. For a new social media profile, start with informed guesses

The approach that we’ll be going through below depends on your previous posts. Even if it’s your first social media manager job, the brand probably has some data for you to work with if they have posted before.

If you are taking on a brand new social media profile, don’t worry. You can start with a few informed guesses. Think logically about when your audience might be online and interacting with your social media posts. (Or some of the better studies could be useful.)

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Mornings and evenings during commute time
  2. Lunch and tea break
  3. Weekdays for…